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Dubs' auction preview draws bidders and gawkers

CENTRAL POINT — Joe Salyer's eye scanned the walls of the sheep mounts before taking in the mounted warthog, then a 127-inch stuffed marlin and a 16-foot crocodile stretched across the floor of The Expo's Padgham Pavilion.

But Salyer kept coming back to the mount of an 8-foot Kodiak brown bear standing on its hind legs.

What better addition to a man cave than a massive bear.

"There's some stuff here that a guy would like to have," says Salyer, of the Jacksonville area. "The bear is definitely cool. How many people have one of those in their room?"

Salyer was among scores of collectors and the curious who took in Friday's pre-auction review of Art Dubs' collection of wildlife he killed, as well as walls of artwork and other items from his estate that will be auctioned today. The bidding for pieces in the Arthur R. Dubs Foundation auction, both live and online through Proxibid.com, begins at 9 a.m. at the Padgham Pavilion on the grounds of The Expo off Peninger Road near Central Point.

A Phoenix native, Dubs was a homebuilder and outdoor film producer with a passion for big-game hunting. He hopscotched the world on exotic hunts that he filmed as documentaries. He was also well known for his donations, helping fund such things as a cancer center bearing his name at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford.

He died on June 11, 2013, in Medford at age 83.

The foundation is selling off more than 300 of his assets to help fuel its future philanthropic plans.

"It's an amazing collection," says Shannon McGee, of Eagle Point, who wanted to see Dubs' collections, which were amassed over decades.

McGee's favorites are a series of paintings by Charles Russell, a Western painter from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

"We're horse people, so we appreciate the Charles Russell paintings," McGee says. "But, oh my gosh, there's a 16-foot alligator."

Count Dennis Johnson as part of today's wannabe buying public.

"I'm going to buy that bear right there," says Johnson, owner of Oregon Trail Coin and Jewelry in Medford. "I'm going to put it in my window for people to see. It's cool.

"I also like the bear rug, the rhino," says Johnson, a collector. "And I kind of like the yak back there."

Auctioneer Wayne Liska believes the brown bear mount will sell for anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000.

"I'll bet you there's over $50,000 invested in that, from paying the guide to having it mounted," Liska says.

Suspiciously absent from today's auction are two large elephant tusks that foundation attorneys were painstakingly trying to document for legal sale under rules to protect endangered animals from illegal trade through the International Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, known worldwide as CITES.

However, a new CITES rule bans the sale of ivory from elephants killed legally after Jan. 19, 1990, says J.B. Dimick, the second auctioneer hired by Dubs' foundation for today's sale.

Dubs shot the elephant that had those tusks on March 26, 1990, Dimick says. The new law went into effect Aug. 30, he says.

"If we would have had the auction eight days ago, we could have sold the elephant ivory," Dimick says.

Patty Ann wandered down from Central Point to check out the collection and found herself in a curious conversation with a handful of other rubberneckers while eying one of Dubs' oddest animals.

A saiga antelope, with its smallish head, stumpy horns and an over-sized, trunk-like nose, looks more like a Dr. Seuss creation than an Asian antelope now considered critically endangered.

"It's not ugly. It's just its own thing," Ann says. "Well, maybe it wouldn't be so ugly if it didn't have that big bump on its nose."

Overall, Ann says, the mix of art and mounts show Dubs circled the world to bring back his treasures.

"This guy really traveled wide," Ann says.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

An alligator skin is among the items that will be auctioned at The Expo today. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch
Shannon McGee, of Eagle Point, checks out a Saiga antelope at an auction preview of the collection of world-renowned hunter Arthur R Dubs at The Expo Friday. The painting of Chief Joseph by artist William Ahrendt is valued at $95,000.